What Type of Accountant Do I Need?

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Business owners know that a critical piece of running a business smoothly and efficiently is hiring an accountant. The task of accountancy can be passed on to one of your current employees, or you can hire someone on the outside to get the job done. 

Before you hire an accountant, you need to be well aware of your accounting needs, and who you should choose to address and supplement those needs. 

What Types of Accountants Are There for Businesses?

Many sub-disciplines exist in the accounting profession, but your business likely won’t require more than a couple of them. If your business does require more than one accountant, you probably won’t need all of them working at a full-time capacity. Auditors can be employed (or contracted) as tax season approaches, forensic accountants need only be engaged when an investigation is underway, etc.

Here are the different types of accountants, and when you may need them:

Staff Accountants

Staff accountants are a great option if you want to hire someone with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and who knows how to do a variety of work. They cover a wide range of responsibilities including maintenance and reconciliation of company accounts, payroll and cash management, and the supervision of staff. As a staff accountant matures in their role, they may go on to lead the company in financial forecasts. 

Certified Public Accountants

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are best known for their work in both federal and state taxes. However, they manage much more than that. Because of their extensive, focused education, a CPA may be hired to manage the organization’s staff accountants. They’re often treated as an organization’s financial advisor. CPAs are also in charge of overseeing audits or reviews––so it’s important to hire one during tax season if you get audited.

Project Accountants

Project accountants are generally hired for specific ongoing projects, and may be a long-term employee or a contractor brought in to manage one specific objective. Project accountants oversee everything including the preparation of invoices, collection of invoices, approval expenses, approval billable hours, planning and maintenance of project budgets, and helping make sure the project is finished by its deadline.

Investment Accountants

Another accounting career that exists outside the realm of taxes is investment accounting. These accountants work in the financial industry, usually with an investment broker or asset management firm. Besides knowing the basics of accounting, investment accountants also have to be knowledgeable about the investment opportunities that an organization or business has to offer. 

It is the responsibility of an investment accountant to make sure that a company is in compliance with the state and federal regulations. 

Cost Accountants

A cost accountant is very similar to a project accountant in that their goal is to make sure that the cost efficiency is met. Despite this similarity, cost accountants are not hired on a project-by-project basis. Instead, organizations hire a cost accountant when they require assistance in managing their supply chain profitability and budgets. 

Typically, cost accountants are responsible for analyzing labor costs, the cost of materials, shipping costs, production costs, and other costs associated with the supply chain.

Forensic Accountants

Just as the name implies, a forensic accountant is responsible for analyzing financial records associated with errors, omissions, or fraud. Forensic accountants may work for firms that specialize in this particular type of accountancy service, be self-employed, work in the legal industry, or work for the government. 

In addition to making sure that financial records are accurate, forensic accountants must do additional research and investigation. 


Auditors are responsible for ensuring that organizations have their financial information recorded correctly. Most businesses are required to perform at least one external audit, conducted by someone who is not an employee, each year. Some things that auditors are responsible for include financial statement reviews, account books, accounting systems, and fiscal records. They also are responsible for making sure a business is in compliance with all applicable financial regulations.

Financial Consultants

Financial consultants can help individuals or organizations make sound financial decisions. A financial consultant may be self-employed or work for a company that provides financial consulting services. They’re responsible for reviewing financial reports, analyzing financial statements, and helping ensure that businesses remain compliant with financial regulations when necessary.

Plan for the Future––Hire the Right Accountant

As a business owner, your life can be isolating—especially when you’re left with a pile of receipts to sift through at the end of the month. Choosing the right accountant for your business will help you navigate the financial obstacles of your company, and help you plan for your future. 

Contact the financial experts at Banks, Finley, White, & Co. to find the right accountant for your business endeavors.